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Cal Poly students shine at entrepreneurial conference, embracing Cal Poly’s core value ‘Learn By Doing.’

Four Cal Poly students attended the 40th annual Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) Global Conference & Pitch Competition held in Tampa, Florida, immersing themselves in Cal Poly’s practical learning approach known as ‘Learn By Doing.’ CEO is a global network for collegiate entrepreneurs and innovators with more than 250 college and university chapters; they support and inspire the growth of any student that seeks to be entrepreneurial. 

Out of the 600 startup teams that applied, Cal Poly business administration seniors Benjamin Arts and Mathew Reis made it to the top 25 as finalists with their startup Té Piña

Té Piña is a pineapple-based beverage that provides consumers with a healthier alternative to energy drinks. 

Arts attended the CEO event in 2022 as a spectator, having been recommended by faculty as a student who would effectively represent the Cal Poly entrepreneurship program. This year, after feeling confident in their startup, Arts and Reis decided to apply to the competition.

Prior to the CEO event, Arts and Reis participated in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Summer Accelerator, a three-month program that provides Cal Poly students and recent graduates with the resources needed to turn their startups into real, scalable businesses.

“During the Summer Accelerator, every Friday you are pitching and receiving constructive criticism. After going through an experience of 12 weeks of pitching, it’s really hard to be put in a scenario where you’re not ready to go under fire,” said Reis. 

Because of their involvement with the Summer Accelerator, Arts and Reis felt more equipped talking about their business than other teams pitching, Arts said.  

“With general pitching and answering certain questions, it showed that we have [pitched our business] 100 times,” Arts explained. 

Joining Arts and Reis were the President and Vice President of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs (CPE) Michelle Wu and Jacob Boyd who are both business administration sophomores. CPE is a student-run club that unifies entrepreneurs on campus. 

Each year the CEO organizers invite the President and Vice President of entrepreneurship chapters in their organization to enjoy the event as spectators. 

The CEO conference was a great opportunity to network and get more involved in the startup culture, Boyd said. 

“Seeing other leaders involved and being so passionate about what they’re doing motivates me as well,” Wu explained. “It’s a reminder that we are all in this together.” 

Going into the conference, Boyd was concerned that compared to other entrepreneurship chapters, CPE would be lacking as a club. To his surprise, members of other chapters came to CPE for advice and “being able to help them out was pretty cool,” he said. 

Reis, Arts, Boyd and Wu all found the CEO event to be invaluable in terms of meeting mentors, participating in workshops, expanding their network and taking advice from keynote speakers, they said. 

“The whole experience was ‘Learn By Doing’ and it showed us what it is like to be a real entrepreneur,” Wu said. “I’m grateful to have experiences like this coming out of Cal Poly.” 

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Self-care September as an entrepreneur

September marks the start of National Self-Care Awareness Month. While this is a reminder to reflect on the importance of self-care, mental health is important all year long. As an entrepreneur, it is easy to forget to prioritize oneself when in the midst of prioritizing a business.

Meeting one’s goals as an entrepreneur takes a lot of time and effort. Entrepreneurs often deal with unusual working hours, stressful decision-making, financial uncertainty, risk of failure and more. Prioritizing self-care is an integral part of creating a work-life balance, avoiding burnout and staying on track to sustained success.

Even during the busiest of times, entrepreneurs should carve out time to take care of themselves. Refocusing energy on oneself and revisiting the activities that provide joy can help create new energy, ideas, and productivity. 

Here is what the CIE community enjoys to prioritize self-care and avoid burnout: 

“Self-care is when I take 20-minute walks throughout my day,” Lynsey Fowler, SBDC Administrative Graphic Design Coordinator. 

“After work, I will do some kind of activity because I’ve been sitting still all day. I’ll go climbing, surfing or hiking,” Sydney Harrison, CIE Marketing and Communications Coordinator. 

“Making sure to take time for yourself and not get swept up in the hustle and bustle of doing your job. As entrepreneurs, we are very passionate about what we are working on. But at the end of the day, it’s still work, so it is important to do things that reenergize you and bring you joy,” Mccall Brinskele, founder and CEO of Mense.  

“Self-care means doing things that make me joyful throughout the day. That could be eating ice cream, dancing or talking to my parents and my brother,” Sarah Hirst, CIE Graphic Design Intern. 

“Being outdoors, being in nature,” Cory Karpin, CIE Interim Executive Director. 

“Clearing my social calendar and making sure that I have time to myself, at least an hour a day whether that’s scrolling on social media, listening to music or taking the long route to work from my car and just being outside,” Stephanie Zombek, CIE Marketing and Communications Manager. 

“Take a day off, plan it and make space for it. I try to get eight hours of sleep and go on runs if I feel antsy,” Avi Peltz, founder and CEO of TensorMaker. 

“I try and get some meditations in throughout the day. It definitely clears the level of thoughts that are circulating in my mind,” Ryan Meffert, founder and CEO of Double Helix Design.  

“Usually if I am working on projects or school work, I always make sure to take a break. I like to eat a lot of snacks while I’m working. Sometimes I like to go out and watch the sunset and spend time at the beach,” Abby Yue, CIE Videography Intern. 

“As a student, I like to prevent burnout by practicing meditation and breath work at home – that’s what I like to do to stay centered,” Libbie Stone, SBDC Videography Intern. 

“I try and get into this concept of anti-rivalry – not try and compare myself to others constantly. I need to show up for myself and achieve the things I set for myself. As soon as I compare myself to others, that is when the danger happens of burning out.” Kevin Meffert, Life Coach.  

“It is good practice to set reasonable hours to work. We usually have to work more than most people, but you should still set your work hours and when you are not available to be contacted,” Taylor Jenisch, founder and CEO of Burning Boat Productions. 

“Self-care means getting good rest, exercising and eating healthy food so that you can have energy to go about your day,” Samantha Moberly, co-founder and CEO of Social Spark.

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The CIE’s Favorite Books

National Read a Book Day is a time to celebrate our love for books and stories. In a world where 81% of us wish we had more time to read, this day offers a perfect opportunity to tackle our ‘to-read’ lists. Reading isn’t just an escape; it’s a wellspring of ideas and inspiration for entrepreneurs. 

Over the past year, over 74% of Americans have enjoyed at least one book, despite their busy lives. Electronic platforms make reading on the go easier, with nearly 20% of books read digitally. Whether you prefer physical books or digital screens, pick up the book at the top of your stack and embark on a literary adventure! 

This National Read a Book Day, let’s celebrate the deep connection between reading and entrepreneurship. Dive into a book that sparks your imagination and fuels your entrepreneurial spirit. 

Keep reading below to see what books the CIE community has been enjoying.

CIE Marketing & Communications Manager, Stephanie Zombek: A Gentle Reminder by Bianca Sparacino. 

Associate Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Tom Katona: Silence by Shusaku Endo. 

Director of Finance and Operations, Damon Watkins: Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

CIE Videographer Intern, Abby Yue: Beartown by Fredrick Backman

CIE Marketing and Communication Coordinator, Sydney Harrison: Swell by Liz Clark.

CIE Graphic Design Intern, Sarah Hirst: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Innovation Programs Coordinator, Oliver Haas: Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

CIE PR and Digital Marketing Intern, Schuyler Eley: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Co-founder and CEO of Horizen Tech, Owen Works: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. 

Co-founder of Té Piña, Benjamin Arts: Cut the Bullshit: The Truth About Sales and Marketing by Linus Ocasio

Co-founder and Chief Results Officer of Intersect, Jacob Hubert: $100M Leads: How to Get Strangers to Want to Buy Your Stuff by Alex Hormozi.

SBDC Assistant Director, Liz Fisher, and Co-founder of 2022 Summer Accelerator startup Ryde, Emily Gavrilenko: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Digital Media Coordinator at San Diego Community Power, Alyson Smith: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.

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Meet the newest CIE and SBDC staff members!

This summer, the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is welcoming new staff members. Meet the newest addition to the CIE team below!

Naomi Baron, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Marketing & Events Intern:

Naomi is a Cal Poly business administration student with a concentration in information systems. Her favorite thing about working with the CIE is the opportunities she has to learn more about business and entrepreneurship. In addition to business, Naomi also has a strong interest in journalism and enjoys reporting whenever she can. In her free time, she enjoys watching “hilariously dumb comedy movies” with her friends and family while enjoying “obscene amounts of candy and junk food.”

Noa Benshabat, CIE Marketing & Events Intern:

Photo by Ruby Wallau.

Noa is a Cal Poly business administration junior with a concentration in marketing and a minor in graphic communication. Her favorite thing about the CIE is the “awesome people” she’s met and the opportunities she’s had to build her network. One of those connections is Pipsticks, a sticker company and Noa’s favorite SLOcal small business. Noa said her notebooks, laptop and water bottle are now covered in Pipsticks stickers. Some things you might not expect about Noa: She loves heavy lifting at the gym and listening to “hardcore Dubstep and bass.”

Schuyler Eley, CIE Public Relations & Digital Marketing Intern:

Photo by Ruby Wallau.

Schuyler is a Cal Poly communications studies senior with a minor in science and risk communication. Her favorite thing about working at the CIE is being around “hard working people striving to make an impact in the world.” In her free time, she spends a lot of time in nature, especially at the beach. She also enjoys reading, and her favorite book is “Normal People” by Sally Rooney.

Lynsey Fowler, SBDC Administrative & Graphic Design Coordinator:

Photo by Ruby Wallau.

Lynsey is the SBDC’s newest full-time staff member. She enjoys working around young entrepreneurs who are passionate about their work. “The way they speak about their businesses is very compelling,” she said. “I’m not rich, but many of them have me wanting to invest!” In her free time, Lynsey enjoys taking walks, swimming, hiking and reading at the beach. On gloomy days, she’ll spend time inside watching movies and TV shows, “mostly about cults.”

Sarah Hirst, CIE Graphic Design Intern:

Photo by Ruby Wallau.

Sarah is a Cal Poly graphic design junior. Her favorite thing about working at the CIE is the “supportive, uplifting community.” She described the people at the CIE as very welcoming and excited about their work. In her free time, Sarah enjoys “anything art-related.” She loves painting, sculpting and animating, as well as dancing and playing her ukulele. She also enjoys watching old, black-and-white musicals, although her favorite movies are currently “La La Land” and “Tangled.”

Sydney Harrison, CIE Marketing & Communications Coordinator:

Sydney is a recent graduate from UC San Diego. She majored in communications and minored environmental studies. Outside of work, Sydney likes to stay active. “In my free time you can find me surfing, hiking, climbing, backpacking, horseback riding or in a hot yoga class,” she said. She also enjoys reading about travel and adventure. Her favorite book is “Swell” by Liz Clark, which documents the author’s solo sailing adventures across the globe.

Mackenzie Ryseff, CIE & SBDC Marketing & Events Intern:

Mackenzie is a Cal Poly journalism senior with a concentration in public relations and a minor in entrepreneurship. Mackenzie’s favorite thing about working at the CIE is the “kind and encouraging” people who she works alongside. Mackenzie is a “BIG coffee lover,” and her favorite SLOcal small business is Skippers Brew Coffee. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys going to the beach and making jewelry.

Libbie Stone, SBDC Videographer Intern:

Photo by Ruby Wallau.

Libbie is a Cal Poly anthropology and geography senior with minors in dance and media, arts, society and technology (MAST). Her favorite thing about working for the SBDC is working in the CIE’s downtown HotHouse, where “there’s always something new and exciting going on.” In her free time, she enjoys hiking, dancing and practicing yoga. She also enjoys reading, and her favorite book is “Atonement” by Ian McEwan.

Abby Yue, CIE Videographer Intern:

Photo by Ruby Wallau.

Abby is a graphic communication junior with a minor in MAST. Her favorite thing about working with the CIE is being surrounded by a diverse cast of passionate entrepreneurs. Abby’s favorite SLOcal business is Bread Bike. “Their ingredients are locally sourced, and they really care about building community with local farmers and their customers,” she said. Her favorite book is “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman.

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Why Diversity Matters

Beige background with gold letters that read "Why Diversity Matters in Entrepreneurship."

Diversity was largely an “untouched subject” on the Cal Poly campus when Zeeshan Khan started as an undergraduate. It was shortly after photographs of a white student in blackface began circulating, a scandal which propelled Cal Poly into the international spotlight and left many traditionally underrepresented students, including Khan, feeling ostracized from the rest of the campus community.

Khan, a computer science undergraduate who was serving on Cal Poly ASI’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee at the time, recognized a lack of sufficient support networks for minority students — so he began building his own network.

Along with two other classmates, Khan founded Color Coded, an on-campus club that provides professional and academic support and resources to minorities and allies in the tech space. The club was especially committed to fostering new opportunities and professional connections for Black and Latinx students. 

“We recognized there was a need for more support, more community, and why not have another place for people to reconnect and feel safe?” Khan said. “We focused on making sure people felt their voices were heard.”

Khan is now the co-founder and CEO of Zoetic Motion, a startup developing a platform for physical therapists to support their patients outside of the clinic. Color Coded influenced the way in which he manages his startup, he said.

Through Color Coded, Khan learned the importance of diverse perspectives. The club taught him that a diverse team can lead to more creative problem-solving since team members from different backgrounds may approach problems differently, he said. 

Two students sit at a table with a laptop in between them. One student is holding a textbook, and the other is leaning over the table to look at it. In the background, a third student writes on a whiteboard covered in sticky notes.

Zoetic Motion CEO Zeeshan Khan (right) with co-founder Ivet Avalos (left) during the 2021 CIE Summer Accelerator.

“Something I make sure to do — and I know it irritates some people — but I make sure everyone says something before the end of our staff meetings,” Khan said.

This not only ensures that everyone’s voice is heard, but can also lead to more innovative ideas, he said.

Zoetic Motion is not the only startup that benefits from a diverse workforce. Recent studies conducted by McKinsey & Company found that companies with greater diversity enjoy greater financial success.

In 2018, McKinsey examined 1,000 public companies from 12 different countries and found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 33% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Similarly, companies with greater gender diversity were 21% more likely to have financial returns above the same median.

“When you have a diverse team, there’s this plethora of perspective, experience and culture,” said Jose Huitron, a lecturer in the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) and the Director of Student Innovation Programs with the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).

Diverse teams within the entrepreneurship space can also translate into diversity within the consumer marketplace, according to Huitron.

Agua Bonita, for example, is a startup that sells agua frescas, beverages made with water and fresh fruits that are especially popular in Mexico and Latin America. Traditionally, agua frescas are sold by street vendors, alongside “culturally nuanced food.”

Agua Bonita founder Kayla Castañeda, however, repurposed the tradition, commercializing the product and selling it as a canned beverage. 

“She found a way to take a staple in our Hispanic culture and bring it into the mainstream,” Huitron said. “Kayla’s perspective and point of view enriches the portfolio of the firm that invested in her startup, brings back capital that she can use to impact her community and broadens the aperture of what’s possible for her community.”

Another example of a startup creating greater diversity and inclusivity in the consumer marketplace is Cheekies, a period-wear company leveraging leak-proof technology to provide menstruators with greater comfort while sleeping on their periods.

The startup is founded by women, for women — but because of this, the startup’s founders often run into difficulties when pitching their business to male investors, who can be unfamiliar with the problem they are attempting to solve.

“We have to be very creative in the way that we sell the product to male investors,” said Cheekies co-founder Mariana Inofuentes, who graduated from Cal Poly with an industrial engineering degree in 2022. “It requires a little bit of extra brainstorming because (male investors) may not relate to the problem.”

Two women stand on stage, smiling in front of a large projector screen that reads "Thank You!"

Cheekies co-founders Mariana Inofuentes (left) and McCall Brinskele (right) after pitching their startup at the CIE’s 2022 Demo Day.

Pitching to female investors is often easier because they are familiar with the discomfort of sleeping on their periods and the lack of effective solutions currently on the market. Rather than explain the problem and solution, Inofuentes and co-founder McCall Brinskele need only explain how their solution is effective.

Brinskele, who is also a Cal Poly graduate student studying engineering management, said working with mentors who share a similar background as their mentee — in Brinskele’s case, women who are familiar with product development, apparel or other aspects of the period-wear industry — can be valuable.

Communication is often easier since the mentor is able to understand their mentee on a more personal level, Brinskele said.

“For a mentor to say, ‘I’ve been where you’ve been and I came out the other side’ is massive,” Brinskele said. “To be able to say, ‘I can achieve this. They came from the same place I did and look the same way I do’ gives people hope, and that’s invaluable in entrepreneurship.”

CIE Student Innovation Outreach Coordinator Anvita Vyas said it is not only important for similar identities as their mentees, but also similar professional backgrounds.

Vyas, currently a business administration junior, is also the founder of Swaay, previously known as Nritya. Swaay is a startup developing a digital platform to connect dancers and choreographers based on emotional intelligence. 

A woman stands in front of a black background, smiling and holding a microphone.

CIE Student Innovation Outreach Coordinator and Swaay founder Anvita Vyas hosting the CIE’s annual Elevator Pitch Competition.

In 2021, Vyas brought Swaay to the CIE Hatchery, an on-campus program that provides students with the resources needed to build a business. The Hatchery connected Vyas to several mentors, all of which she said provided valuable business development advice — but none of which could provide advice specific to the dance industry.

“I really wish there was someone who had been within the dance industry who could have mentored me,” Vyas said. “To speak for the arts or any other industries that don’t have as much presence within the CIE, it would be cool to see pitch competitions or programs for those specific industries.”

Vyas said organizations like the CIE should have a network of diverse mentors in order to provide support to students from across campus and across academic disciplines. If the CIE expanded its network to include mentors from a larger variety of disciplines, it could perhaps foster the growth of startups within those industries, she suggested.

“Entrepreneurship, it’s interdisciplinary,” she said. “It’s tied to everything in many different ways… I think having more mentors from different industries will attract more students to the CIE because the more that you see that entrepreneurship is diverse, the more you’re going to understand that it’s applicable to you.”

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The CIE’s Favorite Podcasts

A graphic that says "What has the CIE community been listening to?" with a collage of podcast covers in the background.

Podcasts have gained significant popularity in recent years. Just nine percent of Americans over 12 years old listened to podcasts in 2008, compared to 41% of the same demographic in 2021, according to Pew Research. Podcast popularity is now growing faster than ever, with listenership increasing by four percent between 2020 and 2021.

We asked the CIE community on our Instagram to share some of their favorite podcasts — check out what shows your local entrepreneurs and innovators have been listening to:

Entertainment | Entrepreneurship | Lifestyle, Health & Well-Being | News & Current Events | Science & Technology | True Crime


A graphic that says "Entertainment: Arts, Sports & Popular Culture" with a collage of podcast covers in the back.

Chicks in the Office discusses recent news in popular culture. From celebrity scandals, relationships and break ups to TV show recaps, the show keeps you up to date on everything pop culture. 

Distractible is a comedy show in which Internet personality Markiplier and two longtime friends talk about interesting stories from their everyday lives.

Guilty Pleasures is hosted by three comedians who take turns sharing their guilty pleasure movies and television shows each week.

The Late Breaking F1 Podcast keeps listeners up to date on the latest happenings in Formula 1 Racing.

Stay Hot is a sports commentary podcast that covers the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.

Welcome to Night Vale keeps listeners updated on the latest news in Night Vale, a fictional town chock-full of conspiracy theories — many of which may just turn out to be true.


A graphic that says "Entrepreneurship" with a collage of podcast covers in the back.

How I Built This is a series of interviews with some of the world’s best-known entrepreneurs about how they built their brands.

Jumpers Jump discusses popular culture and lifestyle from the perspective of three young entrepreneurs. The hosts also include personal anecdotes about their experiences navigating the entrepreneurial world.

StartUp Podcast shares the process of starting a business, from pitching, to attracting investors, to launching and scaling. The first fourteen episodes document the startup process behind Gimlet Media, the media company that produces StartUp Podcast.


A graphic that says "Lifestyle, Health and Well-Being" with a collage of podcast covers in the back.

Anything Goes is, true to its name, a podcast where anything goes. Podcast host and Internet personality Emma Chamberlain speaks whatever is on her mind — fashion trends, relationships, philosophy, pet peeves or mental health.

Armchair Expert is an exploration of the human experience. The podcast features a series of conversations with guests of all walks of life — celebrities, academics and professionals of all kinds — and a common goal of uncovering human truths.

Financial Feminist teaches listeners how to make money, save money and increase their savings. With themes of feminism at its core, the show is intended to help women grow confident in the male-dominated world of finances.

Maintenance Phase teaches listeners how to achieve a well-balanced diet by debunking myths and misinformation about nutrition, health fads and wellness scams.

My Brother, My Brother and Me is a podcast hosted by three brothers. Each week, they give listeners life advice, despite the fact that they have no real qualifications to do so.

The Psychology of Your 20’s explains the psychology behind the common experiences of people in their twenties.

We Can Do Hard Things is hosted by Glennon Doyle, the author of Untamed, a book which rose to popularity at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast opens an honest dialogue about life’s difficulties in an effort to make the hard seem a little easier.


A graphic that says "News and Current Events" with a collage of podcast covers in the back.

The Daily gives listeners an in-depth look at headline news stories, featuring the reporting of New York Times journalists and the voices of real people affected by current events. 

Global News Podcast is a daily podcast that covers BBC’s biggest news stories.

This American Life is an award-winning podcast which tells national news stories through narrative journalism, or journalism with an entertainment-style plot. 

Today Explained episodes are uploaded at the end of each day and recap the day’s biggest news events for listeners.

Up First provides listeners with an overview of the three biggest news stories of the day, accompanied by analysis from NPR News, all in 10 minutes or less.


A graphic that says "Science and Technology" with a collage of podcast covers in the back.

Accidental Tech Podcast is hosted by three self-proclaimed nerds who discuss technology and programming in each episode.

Ologies with Alie Ward is a podcast in which Ward, a humorist and science correspondent, interviews scientists and academics with silly questions about their fields of study.

Science Vs investigates what is fact, what is fiction and what lies somewhere in-between. From veganism and vaping to aliens and asteroids, Science Vs fact-checks fads and trends, replacing listeners’ opinions with hard scientific facts.

Technically Human is a podcast hosted by the CIE’s own Deb Donig, a Cal Poly English professor and CIE faculty fellow. Technically Human is an exploration of ethics and technology and a think tank into how modern technology could be used to better reflect human values.


A graphic that says "True Crime" with a collage of podcast covers in the back.

Crime Junkie features a new true crime story each week about a solved and unsolved murder, missing persons case or wanted fugitives with the use of clear and conversational storytelling.

Dateline NBC shares compelling true crime stories from NBC’s renowned Dateline television show.

National Parks After Dark is hosted by two outdoor enthusiasts who share a morbid fascination with what can go wrong in national parks. The podcast explores the dark histories and tragedies that happen within national parks, as well as inspiring stories of survival and perseverance.

True Spies shares stories of the world’s greatest espionage and detective operations. 

Very Presidential explores the dark secrets, scandals and conspiracies behind some of America’s most powerful politicians.

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The CIE’s favorite things to do during a summer in SLO

Aerial shot of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and surrounding areas.

It’s the middle of summer, and many Cal Poly students have said goodbye to San Luis Obispo and returned home for the break. With Cal Poly and Cuesta College students making up nearly one-third of San Luis Obispo residents according to SLO City’s community profile, it isn’t uncommon to hear that “SLO is dead” during the summers — but we’re here to tell you that isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, there are less people in SLO, but there are still plenty of things to do. Here are just a few summer activities that CIE staff and students enjoy during our time off:


I like to go up to the coast and take photos. In Morro Bay, you can get up right near the sand and take photos of nature.

– Sheri Burlock, CIE Administrative Specialist 


Networking in SLO in the summer is kind of unmatched because no one has school to do.

– Dylan DeFazio, Lead Engineer at 2022 Summer Accelerator Startup Grip Safe


Surfing at Pismo Beach.

– Emily Gavrilenko, co-founder of 2022 Summer Accelerator Startup Ryde Carpool


For me, it’s got to be going to Blues games. Nothing says ‘summer’ like baseball & beer.

– Alyssa Espinola, CIE Marketing and Communications Coordinator


Downtown SLO’s Concerts in the Plaza.

Liz Fisher, SBDC Program Manager and Madison Krum, SBDC Project Coordinator


Kayaking in Morro Bay.

– Lyndsey Park, CIE Graphic Design Intern


There’s paddle boarding in Morro Bay. I also like to hike Cuesta Ridge.

– Tyler Revak, CIE Videography Intern


I like to hang out in Avila. I’ll usually bring a book to read on the beach, then get a burger at Avila Market.

– Alyson Smith, CIE Public Relations and Digital Marketing Intern


I’d have to say hiking The P.

– Shaun Tanaka, CEO of 2022 Summer Accelerator Startup Grip Safe


Milestone’s Trivia Night.

– Will Tregenza, co-founder of 2022 Summer Accelerator Startup Quickie


My co-founders and I like to go over to one another’s houses, play Settlers of Catan, make dinner together and eat brownies. We’ve done that four or five times this summer.

– Josh Wong, co-founder of 2022 Summer Accelerator Startup Ryde Carpool


Live music at BarrelHouse Brewing Co. in Paso Robles. And the California Mid-State Fair — I’m going this weekend!

– Stephanie Zombek, CIE Marketing and Communications Manager

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National Book Lovers Day: Book Recommendations from the CIE

August 9 is National Book Lovers Day, so we wanted to share some of our favorite books with you. We asked our CIE community which of their recent reads they found most inspiring. Here’s what they had to say:

CIE Marketing & Communications Manager, Stephanie Zombek: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Assistant Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Tom Katona: A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink 

Assistant Professor of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Tom Katona: Silence by Shusaku Endo

CIE Executive Director, John Townsend: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Co-founder of Summer Accelerator company OdinXR, Ali Mohammad: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

CEO and co-founder of Summer Accelerator company OdinXR,Tessa Luzuriaga: Candide by Voltaire

CIE Administrative Specialist, Sheri Burlock: The Happiest Advantage: How A Positive Brain Feels Success in Work and Life

Co-founder of Summer Accelerator company For Mom, Camila Monchini: The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

Co-founder of Summer Accelerator company For Mom, Christina Grigorian: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Co-founder of Summer Accelerator company Slolar, Yash Desai: Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company by Andew S. Grove

CIE community member, Danny Gonzalez: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz 

CIE community member, Danny Gonzalez: The Clutterbug Books by Cassandra Aarssen

For more book recommendations, check out The Books and Podcasts Every Entrepreneur Should Know About.

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Favorite Places in SLO County: Summer 2021

We asked the CIE community to tell us their favorite places here in San Luis Obispo County. Here’s what they had to say:

Hiking Hot Spots

Poly Canyon Trail. Photo by Emily Olstad

Hike Poly Canyon to Architecture Graveyard, a collection of deserted architecture structures built by Cal Poly architecture, engineering and design students.

Prefumo Canyon. Photo by Willa Westneat

The Prefumo Canyon trail leads to a scenic overlook perfect to watch the sunset.

Pismo Preserve. Photo by Stephanie Zombek

Pismo Preserve connects to a number of hiking and biking trails, great for hikers of all levels.

More Outdoor Attractions

Cal Poly Leaning Pine Arboretum. Photo by Alyson Smith

The Leaning Pine Arboretum is a scenic garden on the Cal Poly campus composed of a class projects, lab exercises and senior projects from over a span of 50 years.

Pismo Beach. Photo by Emily Olstad

Located only about 15 minutes from the Cal Poly campus, Pismo Beach is a classic beach town with plenty of outdoor and indoor attractions.

Morro Rock. Photo by Stephanie Zombek

Morro Rock is an iconic Morro Bay landmark formed about 23 million years ago by volcanic plugs.

SLOcal Lunch Spots

Firestone Grill. Photo by Willa Westneat

The Firestone Tri-Tip challenge is when you hike 3 of the major peaks in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly “P,” Madonna Peak and Bishop Peak) all in one day, then go to Firestone Grill to reward yourself with their famous tri-tip sandwich. 

High Street Market & Deli. Photo by Willa Westneat

Founded in 1927, High Street Deli is a historic San Luis Obispo landmark that was once frequented by railroad workers and their families. 

Sandwich from Old San Luis BBQ. Photo by Old San Luis BBQ

Old San Luis BBQ Company prides themselves on their unique red oak barbecue, hand-trimmed tri-tip and locally farmed, organic vegetables.

Can’t Forget Coffee Shops

Nautical Bean. Photo by Willa Westneat

Nautical Bean has great coffee, great breakfast burritos and a great study atmosphere.

Kreuzberg California. Photo by Willa Westneat

Founded in 2010, Kreuzberg California was inspired by the café scene in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin, Germany.

Linnaea’s Cafe. Photo by Willa Westneat

It’s been almost 40 years since it was founded, and Linnaea’s is still going strong.

Scout Coffee. Photo by Scout Coffee

Scout Coffee has two San Luis Obispo locations and will be adding a third right on the Cal Poly campus in fall of 2021.

BlackHorse Espresso & Bakery. Photo by Willa Westneat

BlackHorse Espresso and Bakery is a small business supporting other small businesses, proudly serving coffee from local Paso Robles coffee roasting company Spearhead.

Kin Coffee. Photo by Emily Olstad

Kin Coffee Bar serves coffee, matcha, superfoods and baked goods and works hard to create a welcoming atmosphere for all members of the San Luis Obispo community.

And of course… 

Cal Poly Red Brick Dorms. Photo by Emily Olstad


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The Books and Podcasts Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

Person holding up phone in front of their laptop, looking through business podcasts.

Part of cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset is about constantly learning, evolving and challenging yourself. Some of the best ways to advance your skills and learn something new every day is by reading books and listening to podcasts. To find out what books and podcasts (or any other sources of information) every entrepreneur needs to know about, we turned to some of our very own entrepreneurs at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Here are their recommendations.

Have favorites of your own to share with the #SLOcal entrepreneurial community? Let us know by tagging us in your recommendations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.


Sidney Collin | CEO and founder of De Oro Devices, an Incubator company

Podcast: The Next Big Idea with Rufus Griscom

Book: The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

Honorable Mention: “Kobe Bryant: Mamba Mentality and The Mind of a Champion” episode of The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes 


Alexandra Joelson | First-year business administration major | CEO and founder of Intego Sports, a Hatchery company

Podcast: How I Built This with Guy Raz

Book: The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma and Rise and Grind by Daymond John


Spencer Harrison | CEO and co-founder of NeoCharge, an Incubator company  

Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show with Tim Ferriss

Book: The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker


Jose Huitron | The CIE  Director of Student Innovation Programs | Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business Lecturer

Podcast: How I Built This with Guy Raz (again!)

Book: A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

Honorable Mention: The 20 Minute VC Garry Tan on YouTube


Davy Kozuch | Third-year engineering major | CEO and founder of Polycast, a Hatchery company 

Podcast: Snacks Daily with Jack Kramer and Nick Martell

Book: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Honorable Mention: Polycast with Davy Kozuch 


Sierra Scolaro | The CIE Student Innovation Programs Coordinator | CEO and founder of Wayve, an Incubator company

Podcast: The Pitch with Josh Muccio

Book: Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott 

Honorable Mention: “50 Entrepreneurs Share Priceless Advice


Candice Conti | The CIE Marketing and Communications Director 

Podcast: The Daily by New York Times with Michael Barbaro

Book: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill


Haley Pavone | CEO and founder of Pashion Footwear, a graduated Incubator company 

Podcast: How I Built This with Guy Raz (third time’s the charm!)

Book: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

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